Course 5 Final Project

Here it is! My last blog post for COETAIL course 5. You can find my video at the bottom of this page.

What were your goals for your project?

Our goals for this project were to inspire curiosity in students about math in the real world, to make problem solving come alive, to encourage mathematical conversation and to grow a community of teachers and students who share their excitement about math in the real world by contributing and exploring perplexing real world math problems.

We wanted to address the following standards from the Common Core: Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practices

  • Standard 1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them

  • Standard 2: Reason abstractly and quantitatively

  • Standard 3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others

  • Standard 4: Model with mathematics

  • Standard 5: Use appropriate tools strategically

  • Standard 6: Attend to precision

  • Standard 7: Look for and make use of structure

  • Standard 8: Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

What tools did you use? Why did you choose these tools?

Our inspiration for this idea came from Dan Meyer. We used his examples, TED talks, YouTube videos and detailed descriptions from his blog as well as his perplexing questions.

To make the videos I used iMovie. I used this tool as I find it quite user friendly. It is also the tool for making videos that I feel most comfortable with and have had previous experience with. Google presentation was used to make the questions presented to my students. Once, again ease of use and experience led me to this tool. Google Docs also proved to be helpful in typing up the students feedback. I also found it easy to link anything in my google drive to my blog post and Wikispace.

We used a Wikispace called Real World Math. Finding Solutions to share our perplexing questions with colleagues. This was a new tool for me. I found it quite easy to navigate and a great forum in which to share our ideas with others. We also shared our ideas on Twitter and g+. Both great social networks that allowed us to get our ideas out to a wider audience.

For the most recent question that my students have worked on, they used Explain Everything to show their thinking. We are fortunate enough in 3rd grade to have 2:1 iPad program that has just been implemented so I have been enjoying trying to incorporate this technology into our real world math.

How did you go about introducing your project?

I decided to first introduce “real world math”  problems to a small group of students with similar mathematical abilities. We found a quiet space outside of the classroom, students brought their math journals and a pencil and we were ready to go. The students also seemed to be excited at the prospect of math being presented to them in a different way. We began with the movie and just by watching it, they had an idea that the problem had to do with how much paper that we use. When I introduced the task, there eyes lit up with excitement. I could tell that they were ready to be challenged. I talked them through the process of estimating and trying to figure out what information was needed to figure out the problem. It didn’t take them long to understand what was being asked of them. I found it very useful to start with a small group and use the valuable feedback that they shared with me before moving to the whole class.

As I moved to the next problem to introduce, I was feeling more prepared, having reflected on how my first problem went. I modified my ideas and then introduced a new question to the whole class. They also embraced the idea and I could see that they were beginning to shift their thinking. I found the student feedback invaluable and would inform my lessons as well as the next problem that I would present to them.

How did the students react?

The students were very excited! They really seemed to enjoy beginning the problems with some kind of video. I strived to make the problems accessible to all and encouraged them to work together (or by themselves) as they felt comfortable. I could see them feeling a sense of ownership as we continued to do more of the problems. They became more comfortable with the estimation aspect of the questions and really enjoyed and felt a sense of accomplishment trying to figure out what information was needed in order to figure out the problem. The latter was one area that I haven’t asked them to do before (I have usually given them the information needed to solve a problem) and I can see the benefit in having the students use those critical thinking skills before they attempt to solve the problems. It really takes their thinking to another level. You can read their feedback in my previous blog posts. Please refer to the video for more student reactions.

Did you meet your goals?

This is a question I have been continually asking myself throughout the process of the project. As I revisit the goals that we set, I would have to say I believe the answer is Yes! There is no doubt that the students were excited to experience problems from the real world. I supposed their increased engagement int the problems stemmed from this idea as well as their curiosity. The students enjoyed seeing the problems come alive and had wonderful conversations with their peers about the problems.

I think as far as growing a community and teachers who share their excitement about math in the real world by contributing and exploring perplexing real world math problems, we are on our way! There is no doubt that this goal will take time and we are all committed to continuing on with this aspect of the project.

Evidence of learning? 

The clear signs that there was evidence of student learning was their engagement in the problems. They were so excited to get to work and solve what was presented to them. They also had wonderful mathematical conversations with each other and were able to grow their ideas together. Students were able to represent their thinking in words, pictures and numbers. Please refer to the video for more evidence of student learning. I would like for the students to create their own perplexity problems. This is what I have planned for the next steps in my project. This will help provide even greater evidence of student learning and I think the students will love it!

What would you do differently next time? What did you learn? 

I learned how important it is that students can connect their learning to the real world. This is not only an important motivator for student learning but students take more ownership for the problems when they can see the reason behind doing them. I also learned how powerful technology can be when used in the classroom and how important it is to have a repertoire of apps/tools that you feel comfortable with. This knowledge makes it much easier to be able to use technology more often in creative and transformative ways in the classroom.

I also learned how challenging it can be to make perplexity problems for grade 3’s. From what I been able to find, there aren’t a lot of problems of this nature for elementary students. Hopefully, as we continue to spread the word, more ideas and problems will be shared and this can be a new way of doing math.

How do/did you plan to share this with your colleagues?

The first thing that we did was make a Wikispace for myself, Elaine and Heather to share our problems. The hope is that others will feel inspired by our ideas and we can continue to grow and share our bank of perplexity problems. I have shared my ideas with my grade three colleagues at SSIS and they are very interested in introducing the ideas to their students and making some problems together.

I have joined g+ and am working on growing my PLN on there. I have also joined the group Connected Classrooms Community, COETAIL and Coetail Course 5 Final Project. I plan to share my ideas in these groups as well as on Twitter. 

What was your greatest learning in this course?

My greatest learning in this course is to just go for it and to not be afraid to put yourself out there! I found myself time and again using new tools and experimenting with new ways of approaching learning with my students. I decided to just dive in and see where it led us both. It was very exciting and allowed me to grow as a teacher. There’s a learning curve to everything and I also found the constant reflection that I was doing about my lessons and problems guided my way to the next step. I am feeling more confident in using technology in my classroom in new and redefining ways. I have realized that if it doesn’t work how you wanted to the first time, it’s ok, make some changes and try again. I am feeling more confident with the tools that I am using in my classroom (as are my students) and taking risks in my teaching.

Did this implementation meet the definition of Redefinition?

Another question that I have spent a great time thinking about. As far as student learning and engagement, I would have to say yes. I think that getting the word out to our colleagues at SSIS as well as those around the world, is a big part in our project moving towards redefining what we do in our classrooms. There’s always room to grow!

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Musings on Course 5 Project

As I continue to work with my students on perplexity problems (the latest being Disappearing Cookies; see student feedback here),  I have begun to reflect on the transformative nature of this project.

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There is no doubt that the students are enjoying these perplexity problems. It was been wonderful to see their faces light up when I mention that we are going to do one of our special problems. The are excited to tackle what is presented them and are ready to think about what information they may need to do it before I present them with the necessary information. This critical thinking has been a new addition to our math time and has been able to have them push their thinking.

I have also noticed a higher level of engagement from all students. Whether they choose to work by themselves, with a partner or in a group, I am noticing that they are becoming increasingly aware of the part they must play and the steps they need to take to solve the problem.

An enormous part for me has been the feedback. I have found this invaluable (and wish I had been doing it much sooner in the year!) to see how the students feel about their learning. The reality of this project is that it takes time. It takes time for the students to learn a new way to do things, a new way to think, and a different way to look at things. It takes time to reflect on what they enjoyed from a problem and what they would like to change. But knowing the students comfort level with the different problems has greatly informed my instruction and the next steps. Once again the need to be flexible when teaching is continually reconfirmed for me. You must work from where the students are. Any pre-conceived notions about where this project would lead have had to be adjusted based on my students. The framework hasn’t changed but my ideas of how it would go have definitely changed.

I have been amazed at the excitement and engagement level that my third grade students have demonstrated throughout these problems.

I am excited to share these problems with colleagues around the world. This is an area that is new to me and I am continuing to learn about. We have posted our problems on our Wikispace: Real World Math. Finding Solutions with the hopes that others will contribute and use what we have created. It is a lot of work to create these math problems. The more that we are able to collaborate and share ideas, the less time consuming it will be for all teachers. We have joined Connected Classrooms and Coetail Course 5 Final Project google communities to connect to communities outside of out COETAIL cohort. We have also recently been contacted by another teacher, Mr. Kyle Pearce in Ontario, Canada who has a dedicated part of his website to Real World Math Problems using 3 act math.

As we continue to delve into the possibilities where this project can go, it is very exciting at home, in our classrooms, as well as the connections to be made in the outside world. I look forward to continuing to see the excitement and growth in my students as well as what I can learn from my colleagues around the world!

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The Next Step

It was now time for me to present a perplexity problem to my entire class. Having worked with a small group of similar math ability, I knew that it was important to use the feedback and observations that I noticed to make this question accessible to all.

I presented the 3 part problem Sharing a Pancake to the class and, once again, there was a buzz of excitement about a having a new way to look at math problems. This year in grade 3, my colleagues and I have been focusing on word problems and encouraging the students to use a variety of ways to express their mathematical thinking. Because of this, when presented with any type of problem solving question, I have noticed an increased willingness to try the problems presented and a marked improvement in how they are expressing their thinking using words, charts, diagram and number sentences.

After my experience with the first problem that I presented to the small group, I decided for this example, not to use the estimate (on, high and low) to make the first class problem as accessible as possible. After watching the video, the students were full of questions and then, when the were ready to work, they were all so engaged on working on the problem. It was incredible to see them motivated and interesting to note that they all chose to work by themselves to solve the problem.

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Looking around the room, I could see the various strategies that the students were using. It was fantastic to watch third graders able to show their thinking in a variety of ways and when we came to the solution, the students were eager to share their ideas. I feel that it’s important that all students have the chance to share their thinking with others but realize that they are not always comfortable to do this in a whole class setting. By offering the students an opportunity to share in their table groups, I find that that they then have more confidence to share as a whole class. I think that I had more students ready to share their answers with the class than I ever had before.

Once again, after the perplexity problem, I asked the students for their feedback on what they liked and the problem and what the would like to change. You can read their feedback here. What continues to stand out for me is the need for differentiation in the classroom. Although, I didn’t direct the students they had to work on their own, that’s what they chose to do. For the next problem, I will let them know that they are welcome to work with another person or group. The choice often helps students at various levels. I am hoping that as we continue with these problems (the goal is to keep them going once a week) that I will be able to under direct the students and they will feel comfortable working in a style that suits them best.


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Ready, Set, Go!

Course 5 is now in action! I decided to begin with the launch of my perplexity problems with a small group of students. I was excited, and a little but nervous (funny enough!) to get started with the implementation of my final project. The problem that I chose to start with was Estimating Paper Consumption.

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We found a quiet space outside of the classroom, students brought their math journals and a pencil and we were ready to go. The students also seemed to be excited at the prospect of math being presented to them in a different way. We began with the movie and just by watching it, they had an idea that the problem had to do with how much paper that we use. When I introduced the task, there eyes lit up with excitement. I could tell that they were ready to be challenged. They struggled a bit with the estimation (what could be the correct number of trees, high estimate and low estimate), so I explained that they only needed to right down what they could. We then went on to talk about what information would be needed to be able to solve the problem. They did a great job together of brainstorming some questions which then lead us to figure out what was information needed.

We looked at the information that was given to us to solve the problem and then they had some work time. It was interesting because even though the focus of the lesson was on estimating (about how many…) and using our extended multiplication facts, they all wanted to do exact calculations. This provided the perfect opportunity for me to throw in a quick review of a mini-lesson that we had done before: using estimating instead of exact calculations and the situations that lend themselves better to estimation. Because I had a small group of students, I found that it was easy to be able to have them lead me to a teaching point (if necessary). I really liked that this problem was able to address any needs that they required as learners. When I presented this problem to them, that hadn’t occurred to me as my purpose was focused on the problem, but in hindsight, it makes perfect sense.

The general consensus was that they really enjoyed this “new” way of doing math. Some found the estimating idea vs finding the exact answer a bit challenging. Most enjoyed stepping out of their comfort zone and thinking in different ways. You can see the students feedback here.

For my next problem, I plan to present it to the whole class, using fractions, the unit that we are currently working on. I was glad that I chose a small group to pilot my project with. Their questions and feedback have given me a lot to reflect on and I look forward to working with the students on the next perplexity problem.

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Building a Bank of Math Problems

The time has come to put all of the ideas and thoughts that we have been discussing into action. After finding our inspiration from Dan Meyers and deciding on our goals of the project, it was time to create and implement our ideas.

Goals For This Project:

  • To inspire curiosity in students about math in the real world.

  • To make problem solving come alive.

  • To encourage mathematical conversation.

  • To grow a community of teachers and students who share their excitement about math in the real world by contributing and exploring perplexing real world math problems.

Looking at our goals allowed us to focus in on the standards that we wanted to address from the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practices. We believe that the perplexity problems that we are developing will allow students to be able to achieve these standards and become proficient math learners.

  • Standard 1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them

  • Standard 2: Reason abstractly and quantitatively

  • Standard 3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others

  • Standard 4: Model with mathematics

  • Standard 5: Use appropriate tools strategically

  • Standard 6: Attend to precision

  • Standard 7: Look for and make use of structure

  • Standard 8: Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

With these is mind, I was ready to get started on my project. I first needed to create the problems that I wanted to use with my students. I decided initially to keep the word problems related to the unit of study that the students were focusing on at the time. I started to build my base of problems on our Wikispaces Classroom page Real World Math. Finding Solutions. I enjoyed learning to navigate a new platform in which I can share my learning and project development with others.

Image by Enokson

I must say that making these problems has been more difficult than I imagined. Trying to come up with appropriate real world problems that are applicable to third graders, videoing them and using a format that they can understand has been a real challenge. Having now made made a few problems using google presentation and iMovie the process is becoming easier and I am enjoying the challenge of making the perplexity problems. I found that the three part process that we decided to follow created a nice framework to follow. Depending on the concept and problem that I created for the students, there were some differences in what was contained in the different parts but the framework remained the same for all problems. I will also continue to add to the data bank of problems as we move through subsequent units.

As I look to begin the implementation phase with my students and then continue to use the perplexity problems in my classroom, I am keeping in mind that I might find the need to tweak the process that I am following and what I have created to meet the needs of my students. I am excited for the upcoming launch to see how the perplexity problems are received by my students and how the problems are able to stretch their thinking.




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Redefining Math?

Here we go! Course 5 is underway and the time has come to begin our final project. It’s been a difficult decision about deciding what to do. The question that I’ve been asking since the beginning of this course is “How can we use technology to redefine learning?”. We have been learning and working towards this idea and I am hoping that this project will help me achieve my goal.

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Looking back on my previous blog posts, I noticed that I have attempted to use technology in various areas of the curriculum to move up the SAMR Model but I haven’t used it in math yet. When talking with Heather and Elaine, two ES/EC colleagues that are also a part of the COETAIL cohort at SSIS, they noticed the same. So we sat down and shared ideas about how we can use technology to redefine our math classrooms. We have had many discussions since then and have decided to work on our project together, differentiating for our given grade levels (Elaine: EC4, myself: G3 and Heather: G5). I am very excited to be working with and learning from my colleagues.

This is what we’ve come up with so far:

We feel that technology is becoming more present in most of our academic areas. Teachers across the school are using book-making apps, creating digital stories, writing blogs and making movies that showcase learning. We felt that math, however, was not being impacted by the use of technology.  We, along with many other teachers in the school, also have felt that our math curriculum in general could use a boost.  For these two reasons we are setting out to transform how math is taught. Dan Meyer’s “Teaching for Perplexity” video is a driving force behind our plan.

The plan is for each of us to come up with grade appropriate math problems (perplexity problems). These will be real world puzzles that students will need to solve. We will create videos of these problems to present to our students and post them on a wiki page. This wiki page will be designed in hopes that other teachers will use it as a resource for their own math teaching as well as a possible area for others to contribute their ideas/videos as well. This will create a more accessible professional resource for others to use. We will use a wiki page outside of SSIS in order for our project to have the capability of reaching a wider audience. Each grade will have a wiki page with a table broken into the different mathematical concepts. On the wiki pages, we will add links to google presentations for each three part problem. The presentation will lead students step by step and will have videos embedded within the slides. We also plan to share the process of how we made the videos with other educators in hopes that they will contribute to the site as well.

We will test the problems with our students and follow up with posts of the students trying out the problems. We will also ask students to reflect on what they did using videos/blogs. Explain Everything may be a possible app to use for explanation. We are also hoping to each have a group of students in our class that will be able to make a video with their own real life problem to be solved.

We hope that this will improve the transfer and connection between students’ math learning and real life. We hope that these perplexing problems will stimulate curiosity and drive in our students. The goal is to move math teaching and learning beyond ‘the math program’ with its textbooks and workbooks. Technology will help us to redefine traditional math practices. We hope that math will come alive for students as they interact with these math videos that share mathematical situations they can relate to in real life.  Furthermore these problems will promote higher-level thinking as they involve critical thinking, evaluation, and synthesis to work through the problem and come up with a solution. As this project unfolds, the documentation of their process and reflections will further guide our redefinition of math initially in our classrooms, and hopefully in other classrooms as our wiki community grows.

I really enjoyed watching other COETAILers project 5 videos. It was amazing to see all of the wonderful ideas and possibilities that educators have come up with. Sharing ideas is a very powerful tool for redefining what we are doing in the classroom. The Grade 2 Non Fiction Writing unit was one that resonated with me. Having just recently written a similar unit for Grade 3, it gave me some alternate ideas and tools that I would like to try next year. Summarize and Synthesize in Grade 4 also provided me with some exciting ideas that I would like to try in my classroom. While the majority of my interest lies in the elementary units as far as implementing ideas into my classroom, I also enjoyed watching the other examples that were shared with us. It was helpful to see the various ways that COETAILers have presented their projects. I appreciate being able to have the freedom to choose what will work best for us to present our findings.

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Integrating Technology in Literacy

My goal this year in planning the third grade units has been technology integration in the curriculum. I am lucky to be working with fantastic third grade colleagues who also have the same goal. It has been a steep road, writing all of our units plans for each subject and pushing ourselves to plan technology into them, but so far it has been well worth it. I can see with every unit plan we write we delve deeper and student use of technology is progressing up the SAMR model.

The most recent unit that we planned in literacy was a combination of writing and reading. Our objective when we set out to write this unit was to take technology one step further than the last unit, always striving for transformation. As I have mentioned in previous posts, having our Technology Resource Facilitator, Mr. Alfredo Papseit, to assist us with planning technology integration into our units, has been incredibly helpful. His experience and knowledge has been invaluable to assist us in transforming our units as well as helping us to grow professionally.

Grade 3 Art of Informational Writing/Reading Non-Fiction Unit (written using the resource: Lucy Calkins Units of Study)

Brief Summary: These units focus on the reading and writing of informational text. The students explore mentor text to discover how text structures aid in comprehension of a topic. Using these mentor texts, student write an informational piece on a topic that they know a lot about. This is not a research based paper, but students do dabble in a little research just for clarification or further develop an idea. Students identify the text features for their piece to both further their thinking on the topic and incorporate them into the text to aid their readers’ comprehension.

  • Essential Questions for Reading: How do informational texts use a variety of text features to aid comprehension?  How do informational readers determine main idea? What strategies do informational readers use?  How do we communicate what we have learned?
  • Essential Questions for Writing: How do writers find nonfiction topics to write about? Why do informational writers experiment with a variety of structures? How do informational writers use structures to build the readers understanding? How do informational writers support ideas?

As we wrote the unit, we used TPACK as our guide. After completing the summary and essential questions, we progressed through our learning plan trying to figure out, with the use of technology, what would work best to aid in and to asses student learning in both reading and writing. Upon the recommendation of Mr. Papseit, we decided to have the students produce ebooks using Visualize , Book Creator and iBook . The students used these apps in sequence. Visualize allowed the students to add a variety of text features to their informational books. They then brought their pages together using Book Creator. To publish their work, iBooks was used. The students books were then loaded on all iPad’s to allow the students the opportunity to read the third grade books.

The students spent the majority of their class time working on their pages in Visualize. It has been amazing to watch them as they see their books come to life. It has also been an authentic way to assess their knowledge of text features, how to use them effectively and how they aid in the readers understanding of their books. The students have been so engaged in their literacy learning. First, using pencil and paper in writers workshop and readers workshop and then moving onto the iPads. They were thrilled to be writing about a topic that they are “experts” in and have a passion for.

Cockroach Cover PageIn order for the students to have a clearer picture of their books as a whole, we provided them with this outline to storyboard their books. We also provided examples of a cover page, a table of contents and one of the chapters in our book. We used the examples of the writing that we had been doing in class with our students. The students were responsible for inputting their own information and creating text features of their choice. Some students chose to draw their own illustrations take pictures of them and others chose images from the internet. The students were also responsible for creating their own bibliographies and were introduced to creative commons for the first time. As you can imagine all of this took time, and we provided mini-lessons for them every step of the way. This checklist was created to help us assess student learning (we also used anecdotal evidence as well).

I have been thinking a lot about gamification in education and game-based learning after being introduced to it in our COETAIL course 4. Perhaps using a rubric as mentioned by Judy Willis in her article “How To Plan Instruction Using the Video Game Model” would work well with this unit. Something that may integrate well into this unit may be having the students use a developmentally appropriate rubric and having them progress through levels of their editing and revising. I plan to sit down and think more about this when we revisit editing and revising this school year. I am always looking for exciting ways to encourage students to use writing structures, capital letters and punctuation! Jane McGonical’s TED talk also makes some compelling points about the use of game-based learning that has begun to make me think more about how I can integrate this way of teaching into my lessons. Having never really been a “gamer” I look forward to learning more and trying out some ideas. I have no doubt that the third grade students would love them!


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The Future of Education?

When I think of the future of technology in education I am very excited about the possibilities that are becoming available to many students.  I am just beginning to understand the doors that technology can open and am realizing that the potential for student learning is huge. I think that there are wonderful opportunities in store for our students and hope that our learning environments will move towards a more student centred approach. There are so many interesting “alternative” educational theories such as Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio Emilia, that can be invaluable resources to help our students to teach themselves. That’s the brilliant part of all of this. The way that education should be moving is nothing new. Many of these educational theories that promote creativity, confidence and self directed learning have been around for decades.

Image by ransomtech

Adding technology into a student led environment can bring infinite potential to student learning. My hope is that less emphasis will be put on testing and teaching to tests and that students will be allowed to follow their interests and be encouraged to explore their passions. This way students can learn to take control of their own learning and see the real life value in what they are doing in school. In the article How a New Radical Model of Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses, Joshua Davis emphasizes that “Innovation, creativity, and independent thinking are increasingly crucial to the global economy.” I couldn’t agree more.

There’s no doubt that education is continually changing. Who would have ever thought that we would see the day that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) would open up the world of learning to everyone (with internet access) for free. I have taken one myself and it helped me to understand the tremendous benefit of life-long learning that people all over the world can gain from these courses. This is leading education one step closer to allowing students to follow their passions and choose what they would like to study.

I am excited to be delving deeper into the world of technology during a “pause” as Jeff Utecht refers to it. As he notes in his article Taking Advantage of the Pause, we are currently in between new technological advances. His advice is to “enjoy this moment and take the opportunity to go deep in our thinking of how we use the tools we have really really well. Let’s really look at the theory of Connectivism. Let’s really look at SAMR and TPACK and make our brains hurt going really deep and having the hard conversations of how all these tools we have really impact education in meaningful and lasting way”.  As an educator, I feel this is a great place to begin my technological journey. I have learned so much from COETAIL over the past year and now feel that I have the time to dig my heels in before everything changes once again.

When looking at where I will be in the future, that’s hard to say, especially living overseas. It’s exciting because I never know what opportunities may arise professionally. I’m sure that whatever I will be doing I will be using technology to encourage students to follow their passions and help guide them on the path that they choose.


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Technology in the Classroom

I find myself in a very different place than my classmates this week. As I am a 3rd grade teacher, my students don’t have the privilege (yet!) of being a part of a 1-to-1 program. So, while most weeks the articles that I read directly relate to my classroom, this week, it was interesting to look into the challenges and expectations of classrooms that have these programs in place.

The article Classroom Management of Laptops shared some good examples of what may become my reality as the 1-to-1 program makes it way down to the lower elementary grades. Looking at the list, I felt that a lot of these ideas are things that I already strive to do in my classroom as far as management is concerned.  It was nice to read them through a technological lens.

I also enjoyed Jeff Utech’s article Why I still want MS and HS to Have a Laptop. Most of the technology that I have been integrating into my classroom has been through the use of iPads. It’s nice to see an article that looks into the limitations, purpose and realities of both devices. Keeping in mind of what Mr. Utech believes would be the ideal , “Now if you really want to plan for the future, and by that I mean the next two years, then students should have both an iPad and a MacBook.” I look forward to finding out what devices the future might bring to upper elementary students.

Image by Sean MacEntee

Right now at SSIS we are lucky enough to have two iPad carts in the Elementary School. It is with this in mind that we plan our units, looking into how we can integrate technology in a meaningful way. Our goal is to for the technology transform what we are teaching. I still find this a challenge at times but it is what I strive for as I don’t want the iPad to simply be a substitute for pen and paper. So far we have been able to integrate technology into the majority of our units. As this is the first year we are teaching many of these units, we are being mindful of taking steps that are realistic with the hopes of continuing to build on our ideas in the years to come. The use of TPACK to effectively teach with technology will be of great assistance to us as we continue to plan throughout the year.


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Technology Integration in Differentiated Instruction

In our class this week, we were able to share and learn from our peers. We presented learning styles with a focus on how to integrate technology into them. Once again, I have begun to see things from a different angle. Based on Sophie’s presentation I have decided to look at Differentiated Instruction and how technology can be applied to it and used in my classroom.

Much like using technology in the classroom, differentiated instruction is something that I am always thinking of as I strive to meet the needs of my students. As with most classes, I have a wide range of student learners and am always looking for ways to differentiate my teaching. It seems that so many wonderings I have about my classroom and how to make it more student-centred or to differentiate more effectively, technology seems to come to the forefront with practical ways that I can make the shift in my teaching practice that I am looking for.

Differentiated instruction lends itself very well to the application of technology in the classroom. There are a many applications and programs that can be used for the different levels of learning that one may have in their classroom (for students and teachers). Another advantage of using technology would be for students to be able to receive instant feedback to inform instruction and help the teacher and student understand in which area they need to focus. Technology would allow students to access books on their individual level and allow them to read “just right” books in the genre that was being focused on in class. Many of these books also read to the students, which would allow the students to practice their listening skills as well as their oral reading skills.

Image by Llennon

I think that technology integration lends itself very well to differentiation in many areas of the curriculum. It allows students another avenue to be responsible for their learning and to apply their knowledge to real life situations. Learning about TPACK this week on the ISTE 2010 Radio/Video Show, opened my eyes to even more possibilities. It stressed the importance of thinking outside the box and continued to emphasize the importance of creativity and collaboration in the learning process. We can make our teaching more effective by using the tools that technology has to give us. But it is important to remember that, as Punya Mishra says on his show that “there is no such thing as educational technology, teachers need to creatively repurpose technology”. This is a big task and one that is never really done, as technology continues to advance.

The message of the necessity of transformational technology in the classroom really hit home when I was watching Will Richardson’s TedxNYED talk. Richardson is right when he says that we area at a point in education where we have no choice but to integrate technology. “Everything’s been changed by technology except schools”. How can we possibly prepare our students for the future if we continue to keep falling behind?

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